Around this time of year, a lot of people wonder what in the world to buy their already fortunate child for Christmas. It leaves some wondering how they can improve upon last years gifts and leave some wondering how they can get rid of old things before getting more new items. I am more in this last group. If you have been hanging around for a while, you probably know that already. What you may not realize entirely is that my fortunate child has very few toys. A lot of people may question this, but that is why I am writing this post. I want to let others know why I don’t like to buy toys and possibly give some inspiration to you in your intentional journey.
A few years ago, I read a post by Ruth Soukup at LivingWellSpendingLess.com. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a very controversial post. She wrote about how she is getting rid of her kids toys and not bringing them back. While she did leave her daughters with a couple of very special toys, apparently she removed most of their toys. I was so inspired by this, but it took me a few years to really do it. Now that I have committed to downsizing and minimizing, I wish that I would have done it sooner.
So, what are the benefits to having less toys?
Kids need space to think
Just as I need empty horizontal surfaces to keep my mind from going crazy, a child needs room to create. When they have more space and less clutter, they are more creative. We tend to think that children want stuff everywhere, but it can be overwhelming. Too many options, too many working parts, too many decisions. It is just more than a little person can handle.
Clearing out their room or play space can be as easy as putting away toys or as deep as getting rid of truck loads. One thing is for sure, when you give them less toys, they will find something to play with. Just the other day I took Little Mister with me to the store. While he waited for me to try on something, he found a clothing tag and started to play with it. It is amazing what they can imagine if we just give them the space.
Less mess to clean up
I use to fight with Little Mister about cleaning up his play space. Toys would be EVERYWHERE! We eventually came to a point where he only had to clean twice a day, but he never wanted to. It was “too much mess” or “too hard”. And really, when he got it all out, it was too much mess. Now, we have a couple of bins of toys and he does a great job of cleaning them up.
Clutter is not only a distraction from them, it is a huge distraction for parents too! While I like to keep the mess in few areas of the house, it always seems to overflow by a wandering little. It just stresses me out! With less toys we definitely have less stress though.
You know I had to touch on this fact. I mean, we are dealing with primarily plastic toys that get tossed to the side after weeks to months. We are overloading our landfills with colorful, non-biodegradable plastic. And even if we did try to take it to the thrift shops near us, some won’t even take them anymore. Several times recently I have heard that thrift stores are turning away toys because they are so overloaded. You know it is a problem when a thrift store won’t take them.
Find a recycling facility near by and find out if they will take broken plastic toys. Try to sell them or give them away to local families. The root of the problem though is still overconsumption. The less we buy, the less we waste. Also, try to find earth-friendly toys instead of the main stream toys.
Check out Earthhero.com for eco toys and other products.
It is true, some of our products that we so freely purchase are made by those who are anything but free. While scrolling a toy site or strolling through the toy isles, my mind tends to go to the place of wondering “did a child make this bright, fun toy?”. It kinda breaks my heart to think of this. The sad fact is that it is extremely difficult to keep all slave-made goods out of your house. While I have been working at it for a couple of years, I still have a way to go.
Overconsumption tends to feed this ugly reality of slave labor. We can all do our part in being intentional with our purchases instead of buying just about anything. Check out these awesome fair-trade toy companies instead!
The financial burden
Kids toys are really fun…for a short span of time. Once the next fun item comes out, kids want to go and get that. You know what happens next. That new but “old” toy is pushed to the side and forgotten. We can spend so much on toys every year if we allow ourselves and our children to be turned to the new shiny object.
Set a budget for toys for your child. In our home, Little Mister gets $20 a month for his fun money envelope. This covers all things fun like books, craft supplies, a movie, or a toy. Most months we buy a new movie (as we don’t have cable) or books. Very rarely, he will get a toy instead.
There are so many reasons that we buy toys in the first place. Maybe it is a piece of nostalgia from our own childhood. Possibly we want the most educational gadget out there. Or maybe it is just that our children say they want the toys. Whatever your reason is, I get it. Creating an intentional home and an intentional holiday is all about making better choices.
These are the reasons why I don’t like toys. Maybe they also speak to you. Maybe you have another reason. I would love to hear it!